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Volume 6 No. 214

Events and Attractions

Glasgow "looks different today to how it looked like before Glasgow 2014 was born as an entity six years ago, but not in a wholesale way," according to Jonathan Coates of the SCOTSMAN. The improvements "make the city look better and function better." None of the tweaks "is ostentatious, which is indicative of a city that is not getting carried away." There are "no white elephants raising the ire of taxi drivers." The Commonwealth Games "are a big deal, but just how big?" The budget is £472.3M ($776M), which is a lot more than the £18.3M it cost Edinburgh to put on the same event in '86, but a lot less than the £8.92B it cost to stage the 2012 London Olympics. It is estimated that the 2014 Games will reach 1.5 billion people through TV and radio, "which compares well" with the Olympic reach of 4 billion. The potential for economic impact if Glasgow and Scotland take advantage of this opportunity for exposure "is so great that it is not accurately quantifiable." So far, it "has been difficult to identify an aspect of Glasgow’s approach that has been flawed." Glasgow 2014 Organizing Committee CEO David Grevemberg said, "I think Glasgow has done it in a way that is appropriate -- perfect, in fact -- to its context and its growth. The regeneration of the East End has established a really strong foundation of focus and awareness. The things that have been built are both world-class and community-relevant." The 2014 Commonwealth Games will take place over 11 days after the opening ceremony at Celtic Park on July 23. An estimated 6,500 athletes will represent 70 countries in 17 sports, ranging in calories burned from swimming and boxing right down to lawn bowls and shooting. More than 1 million tickets "have been put up for sale online," and the first phase generated more than 2.3 million ticket requests. Of those, 57% came from Scotland, with about 40% from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the other 3% from non-Commonwealth nations (SCOTSMAN, 1/2).

The European Tour has been accused of "manipulating and misrepresenting" the intentions of the late Seve Ballesteros by "launching a rival match-play event to the Royal Trophy between Europe and Asia," according to the AFP. In the "latest twist in an increasingly bitter war of words," Vicente Ballesteros said that the "inauguration of the EurAsia Cup was not what his younger brother and five-time major champion, Seve, would have wanted." This week, European Tour CEO George O'Grady asserted that Seve "would have cherished" the EurAsia Cup and that the new event "carries with it the support of Seve's family and The Seve Ballesteros Foundation." However, Vicente Ballesteros and Royal Trophy promoter Entertainment Group Ltd. co-Managing Dir Ivan Ballesteros, who is Seve's nephew, "refuted O'Grady's comments." Vicente Ballesteros: "Seve was very emotionally attached to the Royal Trophy. I am certain Seve would have found this new proposal to be in bad taste and very disrespectful" (AFP, 12/30).

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics "established the idea that staging a leading international sporting event is a fantastic way for a country to market itself," according to the FINANCIAL TIMES. However, in '14, a Winter Olympics in Russia and a football World Cup in Brazil "may demonstrate that hosting such an event is now as likely to damage a country’s reputation as to burnish it." The main reason is the "fantastic amounts of money that are poured into the staging of these mega-events." The 2014 Sochi Olympics "look likely to set a world record for cost overruns," coming in at a "spectacular" $50B -- compared with the “mere” $6B spent on the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. The Sochi Olympics "have not sparked open demonstrations of public discontent." But Brazil’s footballing ambitions, by contrast, "have already led to the biggest mass demonstrations in the country in decades" -- staged during the 2013 Confederations Cup. Many Brazilians "are outraged" that $3.2B is "being poured into building ultra-modern 'Fifa-standard' football stadiums, when so many Brazilians live in poverty." Politicians "have generally assumed that ordinary citizens will love them for delivering an Olympics or a World Cup." But when voters are actually consulted, "they often take a negative view." In the past year, referendums "have been staged in Munich about bidding for the Winter Olympics and in Vienna about bidding for a summer games." In both cities, "the voters said Nein danke." But predictions that the 2014 Sochi Olympics or the Brazil World Cup will backfire on the hosts "cannot be made with any certainty." Experience suggests that "once an event gets under way, the sheer joy of the spectacle can sweep away the cynicism that preceded it -- at least as long as the athletes are in town" (FT, 12/30).